An iron sword corroded into the remains of a copper-alloy and iron scabbard. The tang is in three parts that do not join, but the sword in its scabbard must have been at least 720 mm long. The blade is now 41 mm wide at the top, and has been about 590 mm long. It is lenticular in section, but is very corroded and flaked. There is a bronze hilt end - highly arched above (20 mm high) and pointed below (16 mm high) - terminating in projecting bars at either end. The top of the hilt end fits the tang with a perforation only 13 mm across, whereas most hilt ends sit lower on the shoulder. The grip is defined by two 6 mm thick iron washers, the lower one 25 x 28 mm and the upper about 23 x 27 mm, and there are the remains of four iron strips that formed a frame between them. The four strips and the edge of the two washers are inlaid with alternating red and yellow glass 'enamel'. The washers are now 54 mm apart, but that includes a recent join. The tang does not survive above the upper washer. Two copper-alloy roundels, with grooves defining rounded borders and with central pins to attach them to an organic base, were found in the vicinity of the handle, and doubtless decorated it. The roundels are 11.5 mm diameter and the pins are 9 mm long (1876,0208.4 and 5). The scabbard has been 620 mm long, with a copper-alloy front plate overlapping an iron back plate. But only the lower half of the front plate survives, and that is damaged. The back plate is in even worse condition, surviving no higher than the top of the chape. The damaged top of the chape is secured by a copper-alloy band joined and riveted at the back, an arrangement that is surely a repair. The chape measures 183 mm to the top of the band. Towards the bottom of the band, on each side, a rivet has attached it to the chape frame, and there are two other rivet holes in the edge of the front plate, below the band on the left side. The chape end, 66 mm deep, is of cast bronze with central circular perforation front and back, a terminal lip moulding and a pair of moulded finishes on each side. It is 37 mm wide at the finishes, and a maximum of 34 mm wide below. Immediately above the perforation on the front, the 'finial' is decorated with two triangular panels, each with three small sockets with central perforations. When the sword was discovered, these sockets were 'set with small rubies, which were all absent but one', the 'rubies' having been 'affixed in their places by small rivets passing through their centres' (Mortimer 1869:181). The description fits a surviving knob of coral (identified by G.F. Claringbull in Stead 1968b: 170), 4.5 mm diameter with a central copper-alloy pin 4.5 mm long (1876,0208.9). The bronze chape end has been very neatly cast on (only a couple of small flaws) to a sheet-metal frame that is plain on the front but decorated with two openwork rungs on the back. The upper rung is broken; a substantial piece survives to the left, with quite worn ends and clear traces of the other end on the frame to the right. The decoration on the rungs includes two 'bird-head' terminals and hatching. A clip over the frame at the top of the upper strip is presumably a repair.
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Using this image
To license images for charged-for journals and publications, and other commercial uses, please contact British Museum Images.
Contact BM images
The image will be released to you under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license. You can read more about the British Museum and Creative Commons here.
Download this image
If you cannot see an image that you want on the British Museum website, you can order new photography from us.
Order new image